Hungry Malagasy children win boost from expanded UN school meals operation

18 September 2008Tens of thousands of poor children across southern Madagascar will start receiving nutritious daily meals in their classrooms under a new United Nations-backed effort to expand school feeding programmes in the Indian Ocean country. The World Food Programme (WFP) said today that it will now supply meals to about 150,000 children in 883 schools in Toliara province after a $2.4 million injection of funds from the national Government.This is a major improvement on the current figure of 60,000 children and 272 schools that receive meals under the WFP scheme.Krystyna Bednarska, the agency’s representative in Madagascar, said the expanded school feeding programme will help the country move closer to achieving the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of universal primary education.Daily meals offer an enormous incentive for poor families in the developing world to send their children to school and commonly lead to drastically improved attendance rates.“WFP strongly supports the Government’s policy of ‘Education for All’ and this generous contribution shows how committed it is to ensuring that children have access to one of their fundamental rights – education,” Ms. Bednarska said. read more

Judge certifies US1B class action suit against SNCLavalin

MONTREAL — An Ontario judge has certified a $1-billion class-action lawsuit against SNC-Lavalin on behalf of investors who saw the value of their investment in the company plummet on revelations about payments in North Africa.The Montreal-based engineering and construction firm didn’t oppose the certification in exchange for the plaintiffs withdrawing their original plans to seek punitive damages, one of the lawyers involved with the case said Thursday.Dimitri Lascaris said the speed of the certification was the quickest he’s seen because of the company’s decision not to fight it.[np-related /]SNC-Lavalin also agreed to pay nearly $250,000 to advertise the notice of claim and to cover fees incurred for two plantiff experts.The company said it intends to “defend our interests vigorously” and noted the case is limited only to statutory claims under securities legislation.The ruling doesn’t apply to a separate $250-million claim filed in Quebec containing similar allegations that was filed in March on behalf of investors in Quebec. A ruling to certify that claim is expected in a few weeks.Two separate Ontario lawsuits were merged earlier this year.A trial could begin next year unless the case is settled.The lawsuit was brought on behalf of all SNC-Lavalin investors who purchased SNC-Lavalin securities between Feb. 1, 2007 and Feb. 28, 2012 or who bought debentures through the company’s June 2009 prospectus offering.The lead plaintiff is Brent Gray, a resident of Surrey, B.C., who purchased 600 shares in January at $52.20 per share.The suit claims, among other things, that a 2009 prospectus offering $350 million of debentures failed to contain “full, true and plain disclosure of all material facts.”The claim arises from alleged payments made by SNC-Lavalin to members, associates and agents of the Gadhafi regime to secure contracts for infrastructure projects in Libya.The allegations have not been proven in court. read more